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A Stitch Out of Time

Medieval Embroidery for the Modern Era

Pattern J: An Embroidered Bag.

Place of origin:
Current location:
Late 14th Century.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Reference Collection, Dress and Textiles Department, Cat. # 8313-1863.

Physical description:

This bag is in the best condition of the three I have studied. This, combined with the fact that I was able to examine it without a display case in the way, gave me a good deal of detail about the design and construction of these bags.

The bag measures 5 inches wide by 5 inches deep. It is, like the other examples, of a flat rectangular design. This bag is completely covered with the embroidery pattern shown, except for four laid goldwork motifs arranged in a diamond pattern on the center of the front (see second pattern sheet). The material of the bag is folded at the bottom and stitched up the sides, and a dark red silk lining is sewn in around the opening. The seams at the sides and around the mouth of the bag are covered/decorated with a double split stitch of dark red or purple silk and what appears to have been gilt floss (see second pattern sheet inset). This decorative stitching is composed of two sections, each running up one side seam and around one edge of the opening. This can be seen illustrated in the second pattern sheet. How this decorative stitch was done is unknown. However, In recreating it I found that two alternating running stitches create the same effect.

This is the only bag of this type I have seen with an intact drawstring. A detailed description of the drawstring can be found in Appendix B: Embellishments. There is also a loop of cord attached to the top corners, possibly for carrying the bag on a belt or hanging it. This is also discussed in Appendix B.

Note: The colors seem to be faded a bit, they originally would have been a bit brighter.


-Evenweave linen fabric, 37 threads per inch.
-Plied Linen thread (DMC 746)
-Colored silk floss (Purple - DMC 3721, Gold - DMC 3045, Yellow - DMC 725).
Bag Decoration:
-Gold Wire (for motifs)
-Purple silk floss (Red - DMC 3721) (for seam decoration)
-Gilt floss (Gold - DMC 3045) (for seam decoration).

BAG3C.GIF, 72k
This is a scan of an example of the stitch.

LBAG3C.JPG, 289k
A scan of a project in work
Pattern Y004A
Y011A.JPG, 740k
Also available: Y011A.PDF, 276k
The embroidery pattern.
GEMB11B.GIF, 47k
Details of construction for the embroidered drawstring bag.(2nd of 2 files)